Another peculiarity about Germany or academia – well, both actually – is that after hearing a talk, people won't applaud as they'd do in a circus or an English-speaking country. Instead people knock on the tables. This was one of the first things I learned when coming to university.
Perhaps applause would be considered indecent. And as the knocking is done even after seminar talks and every lecture it surely would be out of place in many situations. Still, when having talked myself, I find the knocking a bit strange.
On a slightly related note: It is of course funny to which extent applause – or 'knocking' – is ruled by habits and convention. And to see how it doesn't depend on the quality of the preceding presentation. My best guesses for the main factors for the amount of applause would be fame of the presenter and size of the audience.
On another even less related – and completely orthogonal – note: Treat yourself to listening to Hot Hot Heat's Knock Knock Knock EP. Funny enough, the lyrics to Le Le Low make reference to the metric system once more:
Mediocrity's got me so opportunities have been slow.
Sentiment has got me feeling low.
My left back speaker's blown –
left the radio on.
Who left the door unlocked?
Now my hit's stolen.
Where's all your passion gone?
Where's all your fashion gone?
Where's all your magic gone?
Now you feel famous?
Encyclopedias sold through the medias –
fashion is feeding us identification.
Consequential because she doesn't but he does.
Metric systemic buzz is making me anxious.
Applaud the effort you display,
as long as it don't sound the same.
It's second rate you know –
average if not below.
It's second rate you know.
Sentiment has got me feeling le-le-le-le-le-low!
Hot Hot Heat, Le Le Low
That much for alliterations.